If the thought of cleaning out a loved one’s home paralyzes you with the overwhelming task, then you are not alone. According to a New York Times article, the estate sales business is booming thanks to more Americans retiring and downsizing to smaller homes or assisted living communities. When a loved one passes away, an estate sales professional can also help you sort and sell the remaining items at a higher price. These businesses take care of all of the details, so you can focus on your family and other responsibilities.
An estate sales company requires at least one week from start to finish with the sale lasting one to three days. Larger estates will require a longer period of time to prepare and the sale may last one to two weeks. The estate sales professionals will carefully clean, document, and appraise each item. They will ask you not to clean any pieces as certain antiques and items can be easily damaged.
The estate sales company will manage advertising and marketing for the sale which can include social media event pages, estate sales event websites, and on their own website, like the services Four Sales Estate Sales in Washington, D.C. provides. They may also offer online sales services. The estate sales professionals keep a database of collectors across the country that may have an interest in specific collections.
After the sale ends, you can expect the company to clean up and provide you with a list of organizations that accept charitable donations for the remaining items. Within one month, you should receive accounting reports and itemized receipts as well as the check for the estate minus commission fees.
The average price for estate sales companies is a commission fee of 10 to 25 percent of the proceeds from the net sales. Due to the area, you may see a higher end of commission fees up to 35 percent. The majority of estate sales companies do not require any money upfront and earn their profit through the selling of items at the highest possible price. Initial consultations are typically no charge or with a very low cost.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Metro Washington, D.C. and Eastern Pennsylvania displays estate sales companies within 100 miles of the area. You can read about each company’s ratings and reviews and find BBB accredited businesses to add to your list of prospective services. The site currently shows 23 estate businesses with seven of those being BBB accredited.
Your list should include companies with appraisers certified through the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers. Both organizations also host databases you can use to search for certified professionals in the Washington, D.C. area. You may be able to find more estate sales professionals on senior care directories online.
Ask your friends, family, neighbors, and family attorney for suggestions for companies to add to your list. Feel free to attend local estate sales to observe how each company hosts the sale and interacts with the buyers.
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